When buying farms, ranches or land something that you must be aware of and run into frequently is easements. An easement is an irrevocable right to the use of another person’s property. Easements are often misunderstood and this misunderstanding of easements can lead to significant headaches later down the road after closing on a property.
One of the first basic things to determine about the easement in question is, is it appurtenant or in gross. An in gross easement is an easement for the benefit of a person whether they own property or not and does not pass with the land. For example, if an in gross easement was granted by a neighbor to fish on their property to Joe and Joe sells his property, Joe’s easement does not pass to the new owner. Joe would still have the easement to fish on the neighbor’s property. However, if an appurtenant easement was granted for Joe to fish on the neighbor’s property then the easement would pass with the land at the time of sale to the new owner. As you can see, it is very important to determine what type of easement it is before you purchase a property.
Something else that you will want to be aware of is there are times where there may not be a written easement but there may be an implied easement or a case for a prescriptive easement. These are easements to research more if you are purchasing the property where others are using the property on a regular basis without a written easement. Even though there is not an easement in writing they may be able to establish an easement if they can meet and prove certain criteria. In which case, you would have to continue to grant the easement.
Easements are something that you will run into often when purchasing property. They may be utility easements, rights-of-ways, oil and gas easements, easements for access to property, etc. You will want to understand them and how they will impact your use and enjoyment of a property.
There are many other types of easements and far too many details to discuss in this short article. If you would like to know more about easements, consult your broker or attorney.